Legislative changes advance Sable Island National Park status

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HALIFAX – The province is introducing legislation to protect Sable Island and help it become a national park.

mThe amendments to Nova Scotia's version of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act mirror federal changes introduced in February, will help protect Sable Island's fragile eco-system and will limit oil and gas activity in the area. Federal and provincial approval of the amends is the final step to have Sable Island designated Canada's 43rd national park.

"Sable Island is an important site to us as Nova Scotians, and it's culturally important to Canada," said Energy Minister Charlie Parker. "That's why the federal and provincial governments worked collaboratively toward its designation as a national park. The oil and gas industry voluntarily adopted guidelines for petroleum activity around Sable Island years ago, and these amendments will put those guidelines into law."

The province is seeking legislative authority to:

-- make law the ban on drilling from the surface, and within one nautical mile, of Sable Island

-- outline permitted petroleum-related activities, including access to existing wellheads for safety and environmental protection, exploration activities with a low environmental impact and as part of emergency response plans

-- require the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board to consult with Parks Canada before issuing permits for petroleum-related activities on the island

"The designation of Sable Island as a National Park Reserve is the beginning of a new era for the island," said well-known Sable Island scientist Zoe Lucas. "Parks Canada will bring expertise and authority to environmental protection, the conservation of ecological values and the management of human activities."

Nova Scotia will continue to have input on the management of Sable Island as part of a Canada-Nova Scotia committee.

Organizations: Parks Canada, Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, National Park Reserve Canada-Nova Scotia committee

Geographic location: Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

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